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9:04 AM PT: WI-01: The most pressing question for horserace junkies in the wake of Mitt Romney tapping Paul Ryan as his VP nominee is, what happens to Ryan's House seat? The answer, for now: nothing much. Wisconsin law says that Ryan's name can't be replaced since the filing deadline has long since passed, so he'll appear on the ballot in November both as his party's vice presidential choice and as the GOP candidate in WI-01. If somehow Democrat Rob Zerban were to stage a monster upset, then that's the end of the story. But if Ryan were to win re-election to the House and if Romney beats Obama, then a special election will have to be held in 2013. Roll Call's Justin Worland speculates that state Rep. Robin Vos and RNC chair Reince Priebus would be possible GOP candidates in such a scenario.
9:28 AM PT: MO-Sen: There are two new polls out in the Missouri Senate race, and they're painting starkly different pictures of Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill's chances. In SurveyUSA's poll (taken for a group of local TV stations), the incumbent trails newly-selected GOP nominee Todd Akin by a hefty 51-40 margin, with Libertarian Jonathan Dine taking 4%. But Chilenski Strategies, in a single-day IVR poll for local tipsheet Missouri Scout, finds almost a dead heat, with Akin up 48-47. So who're you gonna believe? Well, SUSA has a D-R-I composition of 37-37-26 but Chilenski has a much redder sample of 36-31-33, so it's hard to know. I think I'd like to wait and see what PPP has to say.
Meanwhile, the DSCC is definitely a believer, since they're airing a new ad slamming Akin on Social Security privatization. It's very similar to the new McCaskill spot that just came out, using a clip of Akin saying "I don't like it. I didn't design Social Security. FDR put it in place." The DS also calls him out as "Way out of Missouri’s mainstream," just like McCaskill's ad did.
9:34 AM PT: TSPLOST: In case you're wondering what that strange acronym means, it stands for Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, and it was the name of a special referendum that just went down to blistering defeat in the state of Georgia on primary day a couple of weeks ago. Why am I bringing it up? Superficially, it's been used as a bludgeon in at least one Republican attack ad during the runoff campaign. But mostly I'm mentioning it because of Ed Kilgore's fascinating analysis of how this strange ballot measure came to be and why it failed so badly, which I strongly encourage you to read at the link.
10:10 AM PT: FL-19: PPP, on behalf of the Ft. Myers-based News-Press, conducted a poll of the GOP primary to replace Rep. Connie Mack in the House. Conservative talk radio host Trey Radel leads with 25, while state Rep. Paige Kreegel is close behind at 23. After that, there's a little more distance, with state Rep. Gary Aubuchon at 16, former congressional aide Chauncey Goss (who is also the son of ex-Rep. Porter Goss) at 14, and investor Byron Donalds at 13. Only 7% remain undecided, and Kreegel also has a seven-point lead over Radel and Aubuchon among those who've already voted. Should be a close one.
10:17 AM PT: MD Redistricting: A state court judge just ruled that signatures submitted for a proposed veto referendum on Maryland's new congressional map are valid and that the measure can appear on the ballot this fall. Democrats, however, plan to appeal. And as we've noted in the past, even if the referendum does go to a vote and wins, no big deal: Democrats, who remain firmly in control of the legislature and occupy the governor's mansion, will simply pass a new, slightly tweaked map next year. (Of course, they should just pass an even better map—all they have to do is plunder the DKE/SSP diaries for some great ideas.)
10:18 AM PT: CT-05: Hmm. The Big Dog is endorsing in CT-05—just a day before the Democratic primary—and he's going with... Dan Roberti? I guess Dan's father Vince, a powerful and well-connected DC lobbyist, must be even more powerful and well-connected than I'd imagined.
10:20 AM PT: A source tells Politico that the DSCC buy in Missouri is for a hefty $1.1 million. We should see an IE report confirming this one way or the other very soon, though.
11:00 AM PT: CA Redistricting: Man, what a shitshow. First, the California GOP spent its last pennies getting a referendum on to the November ballot that would force a vote on the state's new state senate map. Then, after losing a related lawsuit, Republicans simply gave up and decided to abandon the effort, even though the measure had already qualified for the ballot. That alone led to a serious "haw haw!" moment for Democrats. But it just turned into an even more colossal joke, because Republicans themselves are now advocating a vote against the proposal! Apparently, they believe that they can prevent Dems from capturing a two-thirds majority under the new lines, and potentially even pick up a couple of seats in 2014. (California staggers its Senate elections, conducting half every other cycle.) Of course, they'd have a much better shot if they hadn't blown all that dough on the stupid referendum in the first place! What clowns.
11:22 AM PT: GA-09, GA-12: There are two GOP runoffs of note in Georgia next Tuesday, in the 9th and 12th Districts, so of course that means pre-primary FEC reports. In the former, Doug Collins continues to outraise Martha Zoller; in the latter, Rick Allen just floated his campaign another $40K loan, on top of the $290K he's already put in, giving him a huge spending edge over Lee Anderson.
11:36 AM PT: Speaking of GA-09, Citizens United (via their usual pollster, Wenzel Strategies) has a new internal out that gives Zoller a 43-39 lead. That's not really very much to write home about: With so many undecideds and with Collins' fundraising edge, this contest is still very much a tossup.
11:45 AM PT (David Jarman): Census: The Census Bureau is proposing several changes to the way it classifies people according to race, one of which would be a major sea change: they're planning to start listing "Hispanic" as a race unto itself. Currently, people are asked about Hispanic or Latino status as an entirely separate question of ethnicity, leaving Hispanics the quandary of whether to check the "white," "some other," or "two or more" box on the race question. One advantage of this is that it'll streamline looking at demographic data (you won't need to deep-dive into the crosstabs to find "non-Hispanic whites" anymore); one potential disadvantage, though, that concerns Hispanic activists is that this might lead to lower overall Hispanic numbers, as some of those people who might have previously checked "white" for race and "Hispanic" for ethnicity might simply pick "white" when given the choice of the two. (Census experiments, however, have found similar response rates in both formats.) The Census is also considering various methods of how to account for Arab-Americans and other Middle Easterners, who don't neatly fit into any existing category.
11:57 AM PT: AZ-Sen: What's the point, really? Businessman Wil Cardon clearly gave up the ghost when he went dark on TV four weeks before Arizona's GOP primary, then spent days denying he was giving up. Now, in a move that will do absolutely nothing to either quiet naysayers or help his chances, his campaign made a token $52K cable buy stretching over two weeks. As the Arizona Republic points out: "At the height of the campaign, Cardon made weekly ad buys in the $300,000 range and spent nearly $1 million just in July."
Meanwhile, is this new? It's easy to lose track of which Republican Senate candidates have gone Seventeenther—you know, advocating the repeal of the 17th amendment to the Constitution, the one that provided for direct election of United States Senators. For a typically obscure set of reasons, this has long been a hobby horse of the conservative movement, but unlike, say, getting rid of the 16th amendment (income tax), it's less clear why the idea of having state legislatures pick senators has such appeal for the tea party set. Yet GOP Rep. Jeff Flake recently told a gathering of party activists that he's on board with the idea. I doubt it'll come up as a campaign trail issue, but it just goes to show you how non-mainstream Flake really is.
12:30 PM PT: IL-02: If you're still following the Jesse Jackson, Jr. story, the hospital where he's a patient (the Mayo Clinic) put out a statement saying he's being treated for "bipolar II depression." Here's Wikipedia's article on "bipolar II disorder."
12:46 PM PT: FL-07: I think I'm going to add this to the loser-speak canon. From freshman Rep. Sandy Adams, who is on the verge of getting boat-raced by veteran congressman John Mica in Tuesday's GOP primary:
"There are many people who have told me they are supporting me but they can't have their name show up on my contribution list for fear of what might happen, which is sad. I never thought I'd hear that in America."
Ohio Republican Josh Mandel has also made similarly garbage claims
1:02 PM PT: House: Republican operatives are trying to make the case that the Ryan budget won't be damaging to downballot candidates, so long as they go on "offense" and embrace the plan wholeheartedly while attacking Democrats for cutting Medicare (which of course is a well-known lie). The NRCC has even posted a presentation on YouTube, which Charlie Mahtesian has gathered up at the link. I'll admit I haven't watched it, but according to Mathesian's summary, the NRCC's political director argues that last year's NV-02 special election offers a roadmap on how Republicans can win while running on the Ryan plan. This thesis is fraught with problems, though, chief among them:
• National Democrats didn't contest this race—the DCCC didn't spend a dime on Kate Marshall.
• Meanwhile, Republican interests (including the NRCC and American Crossroads) spent over $880K to boost Mark Amodei.
• And perhaps most importantly, NV-02 was (and is) an enormous rural district that went for George Bush by a 57-41 margin in 2004. Don't be misled by the close 2008 presidential results: This is red turf that strongly favors the GOP.
In other words, anything the NV-02 special might have taught Republicans is of limited value at best. What's more, GOP challengers in competitive races are already distancing themselves
from the Ryan plan. For example, in upstate New York, Chris Collins has simply refused to answer any questions on the topic, "even when asked again and again," while Maggie Brooks specifically said "I do not support the Ryan budget and its proposals regarding Medicare." So I'm very skeptical of this porcine makeup-application lesson.
1:20 PM PT: MO-Gov: Those two divergent Missouri Senate polls (see MO-Sen item above) also both asked about the governor's race as well. But unlike the Senate contest, both SurveyUSA and Chilenski Strategies see a pretty similar gubernatorial picture. The former has Dem Gov. Jay Nixon up 51-37 over businessman Dave Spence, with Libertarian Jim Higgins taking 5; the latter puts Nixon on top 53-39 (Higgins wasn't included).
It's also worth pointing out that the two polls have similar reads on the presidential front as well. SUSA has Romney up 45-44 while Chilenski shows him leading 48-47. So the discrepancy on the Senate front is all the more surprising. (Also, if you're interested, Chilenski has numbers for four downballot races: LG, AG, SoS, and treasurer.)
1:50 PM PT: Per request, races which appear as tied in our presidential results by congressional district table are now color-coded to show which party actually won them. There were six such seats under the old district lines (CA-03, CA-48, MI-03, NV-02, OH-14 & PA-03) and five seats under the new lines (FL-26, NY-22, OH-10, OH-14 & WI-06). Interesting that the suddenly-open OH-14 makes the list twice, particularly in spite of the GOP's extensive gerrymander of the state of Ohio.
2:06 PM PT: WI-Sen: There were a couple of last-minute independent expenditures over the weekend in Tuesday's GOP Senate primary: The Tea Party Express put in another $80K for radio and TV ads boosting Mark Neumann, while the American Future Fund rather inexplicably tossed in $98K, apparently to help Eric Hovde with some television spots. I just can't understand why you'd spend money on a free-spending zillionaire, unless maybe you're looking to take a little credit if he wins?
2:16 PM PT: NM-Sen: The panoply of environment organizations supporting Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich contains a ton of familiar names: the Defenders of Wildlife, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and, of course, the famous Sierra Club. But there's one group I know less about that keeps regularly showing up in the independent expenditure reports: Environment America, which just filed for another $29K in canvassing expenses and has spent $129K in total so far. That actually makes them the smallest enviro player in the race, though six figures is nothing to sneeze at, especially with almost three months until election day. Anyhow, on its website, the group describes itself as a "federation of state-based, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations." So there you have it!
2:19 PM PT: IA-04: SEIU and AFSCME have now filed their IE reports for that new ad they're running against GOP Rep. Steve King (in concert with the House Majority PAC). SEIU's throwing down $50K while AFSCME is chipping in $26K. HMP had previously filed a report for $51K in broadcast expenditures, so that takes the total buy to $127K.
2:36 PM PT: IL-08: Man, this is the best take Joe Walsh could come up with? The Republican freshman's first ad of his quixotic re-election campaign is a weird minute-long spot in which the notoriously hot-tempered Walsh manages to come off looking pretty damn riled up. He starts off trying to cutely re-introduce himself ("I'm Joe Walsh. You've probably heard a little bit about me") but then builds into this crescendo of anger before strangely concluding, "We don't want to bankrupt future generations. Do we?" He also pledges to serve "no more than three terms in office," which is awfully generous of him, seeing as he's not likely to serve more than one.
2:42 PM PT: MT-Gov: After a very long stretch where Democratic AG Steve Bullock had regularly outraised his Republican opponents, now the tables have finally turned, thanks in large part to the fact that the GOP has united around its nominee, ex-Rep. Rick Hill. During July (Montana requires candidates to report monthly), Hill outraised Bullock $207K to $91K. Bullock still has a wide cash edge, though, $831K to $324K.
2:47 PM PT: NRCC: The NRCC is about to make its first expenditures of the general election campaign, beginning with a few smallish-to-medium-size ad runs in five conservative, Dem-held districts: GA-12, KY-06, NC-07, PA-12, and UT-04. Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz has details on the size of each buy at the link and also notes that the NRCC "plans to add other markets after Labor Day."
2:55 PM PT: NV-Sen: I always find it interesting to see a Republican politician adopt a Democratic frame—the reverse happens all the time, but seeing messages flow from D to R is much less common. Yet here we are, with Sen. Dean Heller (emerging from behind the hood of a classic car where he's playing greasemonkey) saying he wrote something called "the Gas Price Relief Act" which "eliminates tax loopholes for oil companies and passes those savings directly to you." Along with "protecting Social Security and Medicare" and "making millionaires pay their fair share," going after oil company subsidies is one of the most common themes in Democratic campaign commercials this year. So is Heller just being savvy in trying to co-opt it, or is he finding himself back on his heels and looking for a way to appeal more to voters in the middle?
3:02 PM PT: IN-02: Republican Jackie Walorski's been on the air for a few weeks now (though I suspect her buys haven't been particularly big), and now Iraq vet Brendan Mullen is following suit. He's out with his first ad, an introductory spot in which he talks about his military service and also tosses in a couple quick asides aimed at establishing some conservative bona fides (he values "life" and "the right to bear arms"). The redrawn 2nd, an open seat thanks to Rep. Joe Donnelly's Senate run, is a pretty red district, so that's what Mullen's gotta do.
3:09 PM PT: Honolulu Mayor: One other notable Hawaii primary that took place on Saturday was the officially non-partisan contest for mayor of Honolulu. Because no candidate got 50%, the top two vote-getters will advance to a November runoff: ex-Gov. Ben Cayetano, who took 44%, and former acting mayor Kirk Caldwell, who had 29%. The incumbent mayor, Peter Carlisle, actually finished third with just 25%, and he subsequently endorsed Caldwell. So what prompts a 72-year-old former governor to decide to run for mayor? As the Pacific Business News explains, Cayetano "campaigned on an anti-rail platform that turned the race into a referendum on the city's $5.16 billion rail transit project." Both Caldwell and Carlisle are apparently pro-rail.
3:23 PM PT: VoteVets: Here's an older but interesting article from Open Secrets about VoteVets, the Democratic veterans group which just notched a big win on Saturday, spending $317K to help push Tulsi Gabbard to an upset victory in the HI-02 primary. (Less successfully, they spent $120K on Trevor Thomas in the MI-03 primary earlier this month.) It turns out that in 2010, VoteVets got most of its funding from environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the NRDC, and Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection.
So what do environmental organizations and a veterans group have in common? According to VoteVets founder Jon Stoltz, the environment "has always been an issue for us, we've always been interested in the oil independence issue—[U.S.] energy policy is one that helps terrorists." Because these transactions generally happen by way of non-profits which only have to file disclosures once in a blue moon, it's not yet clear whether VoteVets is still receiving funding from the same sources—but Stoltz's comments seem to indicate that this is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship. What's more, the other major outside player in HI-02 was none other than the Sierra Club, so it certainly sounds like this partnership is ongoing. (H/t Xenocrypt)